Let’s look at some of the defining trends that emerged throughout the year, that will ripple into the new year. What about the surge in young travellers?
A big bright spot for the travel industry in 2013. More and more Millenials are jumping on planes, and exploring the world. In fact, under 35 year olds are splashing the cash at record levels. Travel spending amongst millennials is growing at more than 3 times the rate, than any other age group.
Of course, Millennials tend share every moment on social media and actively critique their experiences, online. So, if they strike a bum hotel, or a bad flying experience, its straight to social media they go. It’s a huge challenge for Travel operators, who have to be nimble and responsive to these noisy travellers.
Family-Tree Travel has emerged as a huge dynamic, right? It is surging worldwide, as people literally retrace their family roots, by visiting the places of their forebears, wherever the branches of their family tree may take them. Obviously the internet has revoluntised genealogy, and family-tree travel is becoming equally addictive. Tourism offices are catching on. This year, Ireland has been organising family gatherings (thegatheringireland.com) for people with Irish backgrounds, and it will continue next year. And Scotland is gearing up for the Year of Homecoming in 2014 (visitscotland.com), inviting all those with Scottish roots to explore and celebrate their ancestry.
Are reclining seats on short-haul flights an endangered species?
The days of “reclinus maximus” could be numbered. It was a poll by Skyscanner that first sparked the debate, after 91 per cent of passengers claimed seat reclining on short-haul flights should be banned, because too many space invaders will recline their seat, without bothering to check with the person behind them. Of course, on budget carriers, you’re lucky if your seat reclines beyond one centimetre. I was amused to discover a gizmo for online purchase called the “Knee Defender “. Its a small plastic device which stops the person from using the reclining seat in front of you. Apparently it works like a charm and the prospective recliner is blithely left thinking their seat doesn’t work correctly.
Cellphones in-flight. Should you be allowed to use them from “gate-to-gate”?
This is one to watch, with the FAA relaxing the rules on personal electronic devices in-flight. Many US airlines are now installing and offering in-flight Wi-Fi . And this week, the FAA has allowed chat programmes like Skype to be used from gate to gate too. Cell phone calls, from gate to gate, could be next in America. Talk about a cacophony of noise in aircraft cabins. New Zealand aviation officials haven’t decided to loosen our rules, yet.
Air rage has reached new heights?
Yes, IATA confirmed this week, that passengers behaving badly in-flight, has hit record highs this year. Last week, A Russian woman on a flight from LA to London drank all the liquid soap in the toilet, when she was refused alcohol, and tried to bite a steward. On another plane a man seized wine from a trolley and locked himself in the toilet to drink it. And IATA wants a new international convention signed off, to beef up the punishments for air rage incidents.
What about the power of social media?
Yes, Facebook reports that travel has emerged as the dominant theme on its pages. 42 per cent of posts and updates are travel-related, on Facebook. Speaking of social media, Instagram has just revealed what destinations have been the most shot or Instagrammed in 2013? Second and Third place have gone to Disney World Orlando and Las Vegas. But the most Instagrammed destination this year has apparently been New York City.
For more travel tips, advice and inspiration, check out the website of New Zealand’s premier travel magazine, For the Love of Travel. www.fortheloveoftravel.net.nz
Mike Yardley’s travel notes from Newstalk ZB’s Jack Tame Show. Dec 21. www.newstalkzb.co.nz